“The light that the prophet Isaiah had foretold is present and encountered in the Gospel,” Pope Francis said on January 6, 2019, the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany. He stressed that Jesus’ manifestation is symbolized by light.
“This light is promised in the prophetic texts: light is promised,” Francis recalled. “Isaiah, in fact, addresses Jerusalem with these words: ‘Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you’ (60:1). The prophet’s invitation — to arise for the light is coming — seems surprising because it is placed after the harsh exile and the numerous vexations that the people had experienced.”
The Holy Father’s words came before praying the noonday Angelus with a crowd estimated at 60,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope encouraged those listening in the square and around the world on television and radio to allow themselves “to be reached by the light of Bethlehem.” And he warned again spending time on the “exterior signs of the event.”
Francis cited Herod as someone who had a hard heart. He and the scribes refused to see the light of Christ.
“They represent those, in our days also, who are afraid of Jesus’ coming and close their heart to brothers and sisters who are in need of help. Herod is afraid of losing power and doesn’t think of the true good of the people, but of his personal benefit., the Pope explained. “The Scribes and the leaders of the people are afraid because they are unable to look beyond their own certainties, thus being unable to receive the novelty that is in Jesus.”
But the Magi were just the opposite. They were open to the light and humbled themselves, bringing gifts to Jesus.
“We also must silence our heart somewhat and allow ourselves to be illumined by the light of Christ that comes from Bethlehem,” Francis said. “We must not let our fears close our heart, but we must have the courage to open ourselves to this meek and discreet light.”